I don’t care about Scotland: Vermeulen

Date published: October 2 2015

Springbok number eight Duane Vermeulen says his team still have their "backs against the wall" ahead of Saturday's key Rugby World Cup clash against Scotland.

Following their shock defeat to Japan on the opening weekend, South Africa must win in Newcastle to secure a spot in the quarter-finals while Scotland, who lead Pool B, can still progress if they lose.

Scotland's showdown with Samoa next weekend will decide the Scots' fate and some have suggested that coach Vern Cotter has not picked his strongest team for this weekend's clash, keeping some players fresh for their pool finale.

Vermeulen was not interested in debating the strength of the opposition, saying he hadn't read any newspapers or looked at the Scottish line-up. He is focused solely on his own game.

"I don't know what the Scottish team looks like. I don't really care about the opposition," said Vermeulen.

"[What counts is] the day on the field. You've got to go out their and play as a team."

Vermeulen also insisted that the Springboks were taking nothing for granted, knowing this is essentially a knock-out clash.

"It has been a great week for us. There wasn't a great vibe after the Japan loss and it was really quiet in the camp," he explained.

"After Samoa we turned it around, but we haven't achieved anything yet. 

"We're still in the same position as we the week before. We still need to grind it out and the Scotland game is our next step. The vibe has been a lot better this week and the main focus is still how we want to play and what we want to achieve."

Heyneke Meyer's team have had a nasty habit of dropping off in the final quarter of matches this year and Vermeulen admitted it was something they were conscious of. 

"We had a good chat about that and we know the stats, but we haven't been able to figure out exactly what we are doing wrong there. Is it fatigue? Is it the lack of effort – it's definitely not that – or is it discipline?" he said. 

"Last week we gave away 15 penalties and we want to get that down. When you get that down, you find yourself on the front foot and you don't stand facing a three pointer every five or six minutes.

"Hopefully we can keep working on that and between that stage of 50 and 70 minutes, we can play the winning rugby we want to."

Vermeulen also backed captain Fourie du Preez to lead by example. 

"Fourie is one of the guys who has come a long way with Heyneke (Meyer). He first started with Heyneke when he was coach of the Bulls and he knows how to execute the coach’s plan. He is the perfect guy for the job and we have a lot of good leaders in the squad that can back him up," he added.

"We've got guys like Schalk (Burger), like Ruan (Pienaar) and Bismarck (du Plessis) who are senior guys who have the caps and experience. It’s nice to have those guys to give balance and it is a pleasure to be playing under Fourie."

By Ross Hastie in Newcastle